I keep waiting. Even now I hope I’ve missed something. I keep waiting to hear James Dobson or Jerry Falwell take to the airwaves to denounce the unconscionable attack on actor Michael J. Fox by Rush Limbaugh.
We all know the story by now–actor Michael J. Fox, who battles Parkinson’s, took to the airwaves on behalf of Missouri senatorial candidate Claire McCaskill. Radio talkshow host Rush Limbaugh mocked Fox and said he is clearly faking it (Limbaugh later apologized).
All day, I have been waiting for the denunciations of Limbaugh from Christian leaders like those who were so quick to denounce Rosie O’Donnell for her own offensive comments about evangelical Christians.
But I haven’t found a thing.
I also waited for the White House to take a stand and say that Limbaugh’s statements were beyond the pale. I guess I’m still waiting, though I would really love to see that I am wrong.
You see, I have a dog in this fight.
I know what it is like to have a part of your body twitch out of control because your brain is doing wacky things. Ever since my brain tumor operation, I have dealt with seizures. They are basically small, isolated to my left food and leg. When one is occurring my leg and foot stiffen and then start to twitch uncontrollably. Over time, I’ve learned to just deal with them, but that is much easier done in private than in public.
In public things are different. One morning on a crowded Avis bus, for instance, a much more intense version came on and my leg and arm started twitching uncontrollably. One afternoon at a Home Depot the same thing happened. I had to lie down on the ground and watch my 10-year-old daughter reassure strangers that I was going to be OK–I couldn’t talk at the time.
I say these things not to evoke sympathy but to say I understand to some degree what Mr. Fox deals with on a daily basis. The psychological toll is enormous. But the enormous psychological toll it can take also produces something else–some measure of strength or courage greater, perhaps, than existed before the trial.
And so when Mr. Fox goes on the air and exposes the uncomfortable reality of his life to millions of people, he does so from strength and from courage. He deserves respect even from those who fundamentally disagree with his position. He deserves the as someone in a war for his life and for his family, because that must be what drives him in no small part. I know that when I think of fighting for my life I think of my young daughters, and I am determined to do everything in my power to live for them and for my wife.
What Mr. Limbaugh has done belies a frightening cynicism in our politics and in our public discourse that assumes the most nefarious motives and discounts the ideal of hope and genuine belief. He should be denounced by President Bush and by Christian leaders not only because of the offense he has committed to a man willing to put himself in the arena, but also because of the hopelessness, hate, and despair his language reveals.
I understand the passion surrounding the stem cell debate, but I cannot understand how that debate can engender such hatred and anger. I do not know where Jesus lies on the issue–I am confident, however, that he would be most concerned about the debate.